Volunteers spent the cold, foggy morning of Nov. 14 collecting nearly 20,000 pounds of donated food for the Elk Grove Food Bank Services.
Marie Jachino, the food bank’s executive director, estimated they received about 300 turkeys within two hours during their first “drive-thru” collection drive.
Donors stayed in their vehicles and lined up in the food bank’s parking lot where volunteers took bags of donations out of their trunks or seats.
“It’s been car after car,” Jachino said while standing in the middle of the bustle outside the food bank’s Dino Drive site. “This is the first time we’ve done this and it’s a huge success.”
Donations will help support people in need during the Thanksgiving holiday. The food bank staff plans to distribute Thanksgiving meal boxes to their clients on Nov. 21.
Jachino said that the food bank’s number of clients have been rapidly growing during the COVID-19 pandemic when many community members lost their jobs.
Last week, the state pulled Sacramento County back into the most restrictive Purple Tier 1 status, due to a rise in confirmed COVID-19 cases. Restaurants must close their dining rooms and retails must limit their capacity to 25%.
“We’re getting more signups because restaurants are being forced to close down,” Jachino said. “The service workers are being hit hard.”
She said that the food bank now has more than 6,000 clients from 1,800 households.
The executive director noted that the pandemic’s situation widely raised awareness of food insecurity in the Elk Grove community.
“It’s a shame you have to get the awareness from something so unfortunate,” she said.
On Nov. 14, local Girl Scout troops held a separate food drive and brought their bounties of grocery bag and boxes to the food bank. This campaign’s coordinator, Kara Joseph said that she was motivated to organize the effort after seeing a Facebook photograph of empty shelves at the food bank’s warehouse.
“Normally, this is the year when we’re doing the Kids Can Food Drive in the classrooms, but no schools are open,” she said.
Joseph said that Girl Scouts spent three weeks collecting food donations from neighborhoods where they distributed flyers about the food drive. She mentioned that some troops used their Girl Scout Cookie sales from last year to buy turkeys.
Beth Albiani, the president of the Elk Grove Unified School District board, stayed busy in organizing donations inside the food bank’s warehouse that morning. She said that she and her children have volunteered there since the pandemic arose this early spring. Her school district closed its 67 campuses and had their students take online classes or other forms of distance learning.
“It’s been great for them in this time with no school; it’s good to find a way to give back,” Albiani said about her children.
Elk Grove City Council Member-elect Kevin Spease helped unload donations throughout the morning. He mentioned that Summit Funding donated 6,000 pound of turkeys and trimmings that morning.
“Thanks for recognizing that the need is greater than in years past,” Spease said in a message to donors. “The generosity has been so much greater.”
His predecessor in the City Council’s District 3 seat, Steve Detrick, continued his volunteer work at the food bank during the drive-thru. He has supported the nonprofit for the past 12 years. Jachino told the Citizen that the City Council that Detrick raises at least $30,000 a year for the food bank. He decided to not run for reelection to the City Council and instead endorsed Spease for his seat this election.
“As long as I’m around, I’ll be involved,” Detrick said about his work for the food bank. “It’s gotten to a point in my life where I find that giving is much more rewarding than receiving.”